The presidential election looks set to be held in August with the Writ of Election probably issued after the National Day celebrations.
It beginning to look like the probable election date is going to be 27 August, similar to the date of the last presidential election in 2005 (although it turned out to be a walkover). This will certainly be pushing the election, which must be held by 31 August, down to the wire.
An August election will afford the opportunity for President S R Nathan to officiate at his last National Day Parade and provide a grand celebratory platform for him to say his goodbyes to Singaporeans after 12 years in office.
The election machinery has also been restarted for the coming presidential election, after having been put away after the May general elections. Apparently, civil servants appointed as election officials have been issued with their appointment letters and briefings have been conducted to refresh them on the duties that they would be performing on election day.
The exercise to enable Singaporeans who did not vote in general elections to have their names reinstated in the electoral register has also been completed, thereby ensuring that all eligible Singaporeans would have the opportunity to cast their vote on the day of the presidential election.
The coming presidential election will also be an 'august' election by virtue of the number of potential candidates it has attracted to contest the highest office in the land. After the straight fight in the first presidential election in 1993 and two non-event elections in 1999 and 2005, the prospect of having to possibly choose from among five candidates would be a grand opportunity for eligible voters.
A total of five people have declared their intentions to run the presidential race, although one of them has yet to visit the Elections Department to collect his application forms for the certificate of eligibility. Three of them - Mr Tan Kin Lian, Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock - are definitely committed to the contest as two of them submitted their application forms for the COE on 7 July and Dr Tan Cheng Bock will be submitting his application on 18 July.
The actual final tally of candidates will, of course, depend on the decisions of the 3-member Presidential Elections Committee (PEC), which is headed by the chairman of the Public Service Commission and includes the chairman of the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights nominated by the chairman of the Council.
Former deputy prime minister Dr Tony Tan and former member of parliament Dr Tan Cheng Bock appear to be shoo-ins as a candidates. The PEC's decisions on them should be straight forward given Dr Tony Tan's high office in government and chairmanship of Singapore Press Holdings, and Dr Tan Cheng Bock's chairmanship of Chuan Hup Holdings.
We're still holding our breath for Mr Tan Kin Lian on account that he was the chief executive officer of a co-operative and not a company, one of the stipulated requirements for eligibility to contest the presidential elections. That however has not stopped him from continuing with his campaign for the presidency. We can only wish Mr Tan the best in his effort to get the COE under a special clause.
The special clause is also going to be the basis of Mr Tan Jee Say's application for the COE. Mr Tan, the latest to declare his intention to run the race, was the principal private secretary to former prime minister Goh Chok Tong before leaving for the private sector and most recently, had contested the general elections as an opposition candidate. Mr Tan's entry into the race has apparently been well-received on account of him being a candidate who is not linked to the PAP.
The final possible candidate is failed 2005 presidential election candidate Mr Andrew Kuan, who had then been disqualified by the PEC on account of his not meeting the requirements for candidacy. Mr Kuan seems set to try his hand at the presidential race again but that all depends on him collecting and submitting the application forms for the COE.
Well, whether it going to be a straight fight between two candidates or a three, four or five cornered fight, the real winners, at least up to this point, are us, the voters. Primarily because we will actually have a choice after 18 years. We will be able to say that we have played a part in shaping the future direction of our nation and our future.